It was my daughter's Spring break a couple of weeks ago, so we headed down south to visit family and friends in California. On the way to the airport it started raining. I mean POURING. Literally the skies opened up and some very serious rain came fallin' down.
Which, honestly, made us even MORE excited to be heading out of town.
We all needed a break from the seemingly never ending rain and grey skies. We needed to have the hot sun beat down on us, feel sand between our toes, and smell the fresh ocean air. And, honestly, I was beyond thrilled to ditch my rain boots for my flip flops, and trade out my sweats for shorts.
And the funny thing was......we were hot. While all the locals bundled up in sweatshirts and Uggs, we braved the low 70's in t-shirts and sandals.
And, yes, I'm being sarcastic.
Living in the PNW has toughened us up a bit, because you bet when we were living down there I always wore a sweatshirt until it hit at least 75.
When we got home, the rain had cleared out (for at least the first few days), and left behind...... Spring.
All that rain had coaxed all the flowers out of their winter hibernation. Trees that had the teeny tiniest buds when we left were now decked out in glorious, colorful flowers. Pinks and whites and reds and yellows. Our cherry blossom tree in the front yard had the most fabulous canopy of flowers, providing nature's roof for the tulips that popped up in the flower bed right below it.
Spring had most definitely arrived.
And speaking of Spring, all the fabulousness that is Spring produce also arrived.
Asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, and broccolini.....just to name a few.
When people ask me how to start menu planning (for some of my favorite tips check out this blog post), one of the first things I always say is "pick menus around whatever is in season."
It makes cooking so much easier when you have a plethora of fresh, seasonal produce to choose from. And everything just simply tastes better when it's in season.
This is one of my favorite ways to take advantage of all the Spring produce ---- Pasta Primavera. It's crazy easy to make and just as crazy easy to adapt. Don't worry about sticking to the recipe if you can't find an ingredient. And absolutely feel free to ADD to this recipe with your favorite Spring produce.
Right now, ramps are in season. And if you blink you'll miss them, so add them if you find them. Ramps are one of the very first Spring veggies to poke their head out of the dirt, and you'll most likely find them at your farmer's market. They're like a distant cousin to the leek, garlic and scallion, but much more pungent, so a little goes a long way.
Fava beans, morels, and arugula would all be delicious additions to this dish.
So before you head off to cook dinner........tell me..........
What Spring veggie are you most excited to eat and cook with this season? Share in the comments!
I'll go first.......artichokes!! Can't wait to steam some (and grill, too!) and serve them up with lemon aoili.....recipe for that coming soon!
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- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 ounces mushrooms
- 1/2 lb asparagus, cut into bite size pieces (*remove the tough end part)
- 2 small zucchini, sliced
- 1 pound broccolini, cut into bit size pieces, including the stalks
- 1/2 cup fresh English peas (if you can't find fresh, you can use frozen.....but I highly encourage you to seak out fresh peas!)
- 1 lb fusilli, cooked and drained (you can also use penne, orecchiette, or spaghetti)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 basket cherry tomatoes (you can use roma or heirloom -- quarter or slice them)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat.
- 2. Once the garlic starts to jump around a bit, add the mushrooms, and stir. Cooking until they're golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- 3. Then add the rest of the veggies -- asparagus, zucchini, broccolini and peas.
- 4. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. If you like your veggies more cooked, then add an extra 3 minutes.
- 5. Add the cooked pasta, cream, Parmesan, red pepper flakes (if using them), butter, salt and pepper.
- 6. Stir to combine.
- 7. Stir in the tomatoes, basil and parsley.
- 8. Serve immediately.
If you want to add some protein, grilled chicken would be delicious!
*To naturally remove the tough end of the asparagus: hold the asparagus with 2 hands, and bend the asparagus. It will naturally break just above the tough part. Keep the top, and save the bottom. I love to save veggie scraps to use in homemade veggie broth and soups.